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Bear Raid Record Breaking: Washington State

Remember that time Cal beat Wazzu 66-3? That was fun!

When this guy is on the sidelines, weird things tend to happen.
When this guy is on the sidelines, weird things tend to happen.
William Mancebo

Week 1 vs. Northwestern: Success!
Week 2 vs. Portland State: History diversion!
Week 3 vs. Ohio State: Success!
Week 4 vs. Oregon:

Nearly every record Cal has set for most points against an original Pac-10 opponent was set prior to the existence of this blog, with one notable exception: Cal's unbelievable 66-3 romp over Washington State. There are so many incredible stats from that game that it's probably impossible to list them all, and it's going to be very, very difficult for the Bear Raid to top.

Interestingly, I'm not sure the stage seemed set for a truly epic blowout win. The game happened very early in the 2008 season, and Cal was coming off of a disastrous 2nd half collapse in 2007, while Washington State had been reasonably respectable at 5-7. In fact, a narrow 3 point loss in Berkeley late in the season was the only game stemming Cal's collapse and would have put the Cougars in a bowl game. Arguably, Cal and Washington State hadn't been very far apart the year before.

The Cougars fired Bill Doba anyway, in favor of Paul Wulff, then lost their first game of the season to what turned out to be an excellent Oklahoma State team, 39-13. So yeah, the Cougs probably weren't great, but it's not like Cal was coming off a hot season and they never played well in Pullman. There was perhaps a reason to think that the Bears should be on upset alert

When the first quarter ended it was 21-3. It was 42-3 at the half. It was the most shockingly one-sided Cal game I've ever seen, and I watched Cal vs. Presbyterian. CGB's reaction at the time? Ragnarok was dumbfounded. Cougcenter equally so. Nobody saw it coming.

It takes crazy things to score 66 points. Things like blocked field goals getting returned for touchdowns. Things like multiple 80+ yard touchdowns. Things like four turnovers including an 89 yard interception return. It takes an amazing confluence of bad and unlucky and weird.

It helped that the game produced a gigantic mismatch between running back and defense. Jahvid Best is the fastest running back to ever play for the Bears, and Washington State's linebackers and secondary were completely unable to deal with that speed. Cougar defenders took some of the worst angles I have ever seen in a football game trying to tackle him. I shudder to think the amount of yards he could have put up if the coaching staff had kept calling his number.

Can the Bear Raid beat this record?

To restate: It's really, really hard to score 66 points. 66 points is nearly 10 touchdowns. If you can even get in the ballpark of 66 points, the game is probably a blowout and the head coach is likely to pull his foot off of the gas. If the other team has the offense to keep up, they're probably burning too much clock while scoring points of their own.

The reason Cal scored 66 points was because the 2008 Cougars were perhaps the worst team in the history of the conference, and they played perhaps their worst game of the year against Cal. As little as Washington State has progressed over the last 5 years, they are still miles better than 2008. What more can you say about a team that set the conference record for most points allowed (46.75 per game against FBS teams) in a single season?

But . . . if there's a glimmer of hope, either now or a few years down the road, it's because Mike Leach is in charge. Leach's version of the Air Raid isn't quite as tempo crazy as the offenses at Cal or Oregon, but it's still capable of putting up crazy points very quickly. If there were ever two head coaches that could produce a game in which the loser scored in the 50s or 60s, it would be these two, right?

Alas, that's almost certainly not going to be the case this year. Leach still hasn't gotten the Air Raid moving in Pullman the way it was in Lubbock. Perhaps even more oddly, he has kept his team competitive with a defense that is reasonably stingy. They beat USC in the Coliseum without scoring an offensive touchdown!

So yeah, I feel very confident in saying that Cal doesn't stand a chance of breaking the 66 point barrier on Saturday. And even with a new up-tempo offense, that strikes me as a record that could last for a long, long time.